Politicians are ignorant about reproductive freedom, and we need to educate them

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It has certainly not gone unnoticed that women’s reproductive freedom has been at the mercy of mostly male politicians who have never had to grapple with the real impact of access to reproductive healthcare (except perhaps when arranging an abortion for a mistress). Just this past week, we saw two examples of men in power who are aggressively ignorant about the reality women deal with in this country and how abortion and birth control affect our lives. 

In another horrifying cabinet development, Donald Trump chose staunchly anti-choice Rep. Tom Price to be Health Secretary. Price apparently said with a straight face that “there’s not one” woman who can’t afford birth control.

Then we had Ohio State Representative Jim Buchy, who had this to say when he was asked, seemingly for the first time, why he thinks a woman would want to have an abortion:

He pauses. Then he says, “Well, there’s probably a lot of reas— I’m not a woman.” He laughs. “I’m thinking now if I’m a woman why would I want to get … Some of it has to do with economics. A lot of it has to do with economics. I don’t know. It’s a question I’ve never even thought about.”

It’s inexcusable, though sadly not surprising, that people who are working to pass the most draconian anti-abortion law in the country have never even stopped to think about the people who would be affected.

There are a lot of reasons that these politicians could be out of touch with the lived experiences of women, despite the fact that they surely interact with women on a daily basis. One of those reasons is that stigma and shame keep us from talking about how abortion and birth control have changed our lives, and how struggles to access it could be detrimental to our well-being. Even some well-intentioned politicians who vote the right way still stumble because they aren’t as comfortable and informed as they should be. As we face an administration stacked with anti-choice appointees, we need to be sharing our stories now more than ever. Ideally politicians would be working to educate themselves on the practical impacts of their policymaking, but that clearly isn’t happening, so we need to take it upon ourselves.

Write to your representatives in state, local and federal government and tell them specifically how abortion and birth control have been important in your life. Call them on the phone. Set up a meeting with them and tell them face to face (it’s much easier to do this than many people realize and is one of the most impactful ways to get a message across to politicians). Share your stories with your friends and family. Write. Post on social media. #ShoutYourAbortion.

This won’t work on everyone. Some politicians will hold tight to their ideology, and compassion for women will never enter into the equation. But we do have the opportunity to open some people’s eyes to the real consequences of their actions, and to make them realize how it’s also impacted people they care about. At the very least, we can be unashamed and unrestrained in sharing our stories and rob them of one more excuse for their attacks on our bodily autonomy.

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Author: Rebecca Griffin

I am a passionate advocate for progressive causes with over a decade of experience organizing for social change. That organizing experience informs the way I look at the world and the challenges we face in working toward social justice. I started Of Means and Ends to write about social issues I care about and share my thoughts on how we organize in a smart, strategic way. Please visit and join the conversation.

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